- A Tunisian editor, trying to publish her independent weekly newspaper 'Kalima', has been blocked by the government for the third time in five years. Also the foreign-hosted website is blocked in Tunisia.
The French group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) today accuses the Tunisian authorities of blocking the development of an independent press in the country after journalist Sihem Bensedrine failed in her attempt to register the weekly newspaper 'Kalima'.
Ms Bensedrine again was turned away when she tried to begin the registration process for the bilingual publication at the Interior Ministry's offices in Tunis on 13 January 2004.
This is the third time since 1999 that Ms Bensedrine has attempted to file a "preliminary statement" for 'Kalima' with the Interior Ministry. A home-produced version of the newspaper is currently published on an irregular basis and distributed unofficially.
The Tunisian editor also produces an online version of her weekly newspaper. But Kalima's website, which is hosted abroad, continues to be blocked by the Tunisian government and cannot be seen within Tunisia.
Anticipating a setback at the Ministry's offices, Ms Bensedrine decided to invite witnesses to observe her request for registration. Kalima's editorial committee, her lawyer, Member of Parliament Mokhtar Djalali and Tunisian Human Rights League President Mokhtar Trifi accompanied the journalist.
All witnesses could testify to the Ministry's blocking. "She was once again able to show proof of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's refusal to liberalise the press in Tunisia," RSF noted.
On 14 January, Ms Bensedrine was subjected to a particularly thorough search at Tunis airport before boarding a flight to Germany. A copy of 'Kalima' was confiscated from her as well as three CD-ROMs containing personal data.
Further, on 5 January, Ms Bensedrine was the victim of an assault that she believes was linked to her strong stand in support of free expression in Tunisia, according to RSF.
- This latest unsuccessful attempt to publish the newspaper 'Kalima' provides additional evidence of the Tunisian authorities' determination to keep the press under control,' said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a statement today.
- President Ben Ali has publicly declared his support for freedom of information but deliberately prevents the creation of an independent press, Mr Ménard added. "Against this backdrop, the holding of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis in 2005 is a scandal."
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.
afrol News - As Malawi faces its worst-ever corruption scandals, donors are now freezing their aid. But Charles Mkula, head of Malawi's journalists, told afrol News that this will only victimise the extremely poor country and create political chaos.
afrol News - Four hangings have already been executed and a fifth is in preparation in Nigeria. The country had imposed a moratorium on state executions in 2006, but governors are now rushed to sign death warrants as President Goodluck Jonathan lifted the ban.
afrol News - In Madagascar, "a largely uncontrolled locust plague" is in development, which by September is expected to infest two-thirds of the large island. If not checked, the locusts will finish off the entire crops of more than half of the population.
afrol News - Despite massive pressure to stop the prosecution of Kenya's recently elected President, Uhuru Kenyatta, the International Criminal Court (ICC) today set a new date for the trial against the state leader. Mr Kenyatta is accused of crimes against humanity.